In other words, rather than loving our neighbors as we wish to be loved ourselves, we make countless excuses not to care, and the result is an increased loss in life through dreadful acts of brutality. If we are more interested in watching Ryan Seacrest give away dollars than listening to our president share plans to save lives, then what is it that we truly stand for?
As President Obama continues to make the case for intervention in Syria, and as the death tolls in the region continue to rise, perhaps the most important battle to be won is the fight against our collective indifference. In other words, regardless of whether or not one agrees with the president, as we consider how to engage, perhaps the most important point is to stay fully engaged. The stakes are far too high, the costs of mistakes are far too deep, and the value of human life is far too priceless. In the words of Elie Wiesel:
“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”
As citizens of a global superpower we have the unique opportunity to do what is required for peace in our world, and as members of a global human community we have the sacred responsibility to do so. And so, as we continue to consider a full range of options surrounding intervention, the time is upon us to resist the temptation of isolation, as there is no greater priority than the process of peacemaking, the situation in Syria is not hopeless, and we in the United States are by no means helpless.
There are far too many Syrians trying to survive in an earthly hell, and in the face of such gross injustices, neutrality and inaction cannot be acceptable options. The time is upon us to seek solutions and spark action, and the first enemy to conquer is not standing on foreign soil, but rather, it is the collective indifference that sits in so many of our hearts. And so, may we meet this moment for the sake of peace, not merely because we can, but because we should.
Brian E. Konkol is the chaplain at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter.